Taken from a recent BBC News technology story (which appears to have been taken down, but you can still Google this phrase if you don't believe me):
A gadget for the blind reads labels, audio books and plays music.
I see this type of sentence construction a lot, even from professional journalists, and I believe that most people don't have any problem with it. But I do.
This gadget reads labels and plays music, but what does it do with audio books? 'Read them', I hear you say. But, except as a headline, you would never write:
A gadget for the blind reads labels, audio books.
Instead you would write:
A gadget for the blind reads labels and audio books.
This suggests the original construction needs another 'and'. Giving you:
A gadget for the blind reads labels and audio books, and plays music.
I suppose the comma is optional, but it helps indicate a change of verb is coming.
The ambiguous Oxford comma
5 days ago